AG’s office silent on new search for special prosecutor

AG’s office silent on new search for special prosecutor

  22 Nov 2016

 

 

The attorney general’s office has yet to relaunch its search for a special prosecutor to investigate the illegal pay raises Gov. Eddie Calvo awarded 107 Adelup staffers in December 2014.

When the AG’s office canceled the initial request for proposal in August, it said the new one was expected to be re-issued sometime in September, “or soon thereafter.” As of late, the AG’s office has remained silent on the issue and has not responded to Pacific Daily News’ emails requesting comment on the matter. [restrict]

For Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, who had urged elected Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson to review the issue a year ago, her office’s recent silence on the matter is concerning.

“The attorney general herself declared Adelup’s retroactive pay raises illegal, and no matter how uncomfortable it may be, she has a moral and professional obligation to see this through,” Cruz wrote in an email Tuesday.

Carlina Charfauros, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, had stated in August that the office would restart the solicitation process soon and that legislation is needed to address the issues in the protest.

Citing Charfauros’ statement regarding legislation being needed to get the request moving again, Cruz said he hasn’t received any official request from Barrett-Anderson or her office to amend any certain law.

“If the law requires a change so as to prevent conflicts of interest with an independent prosecutor, I urge the AG to provide me with whatever statutory fix she may require,” he said in the email. “If not, get it done, so the people of Guam can close the book on these acts and move forward.”

“Until then, we send an awful and sobering message to the electorate: if you have the right friends in place, justice delayed can be justice denied,” he added.

Roughly a year ago, Cruz’s office had found that Adelup’s payroll spiked by about $800,000 during a single pay period in December 2014. Cruz suspected Gov. Calvo gave out pay raises retroactively, violating Guam’s compensation laws.

It’s now been nearly a year since Barrett-Anderson confirmed Cruz’s suspicion and sent Calvo the legal opinion stating the raises he gave were in fact retroactive and therefore illegal. In the opinion, she also advised Calvo to have his staff repay the money or get the Legislature to introduce a measure to make the action legal.

Earlier this year, Adelup submitted a measure to the Legislature that proposes to legalize raises, however, the proposed measure was sent to Vice Speaker Cruz’s committee.

The measure didn’t move forward as Cruz has said that he doesn’t support legislation that addresses an issue currently under or pending investigation.

A few months later, Adelup began asking former employees to set up a repayment plan with administration while current government employees were to begin to see reductions in their pay starting the following month.

Pacific Daily News has asked Adelup to provide details on the repayment such as how much has been paid back so far, and how many former staffers have yet to set up a repayment plan with the government.

Oyaol Ngirairikl, director of communications at Adelup, stated that she’s definitely seen reductions in her paycheck. She added that the Department of Administration was working on getting those answers, but as of press time they were not ready for release.

After a couple of months of consideration, Barrett-Anderson announced last February that the office would launch the request for proposal to solicit an attorney, or independent prosecutor, to review the evidence from the retroactive pay raises and determine if criminal charges and further prosecution were necessary.

Barrett-Anderson assigned Chief Prosecutor Philip Tydingco to head up the request for proposal while she and her staff created an “ethical wall” during the solicitation.

Tydingo explained that because Barrett-Anderson issued a legal opinion on the pay-raise controversy, she had a legal and ethical obligation to recuse herself and her office from the raises controversy.

During the solicitation period, the request underwent a handful of amendments primarily to push back certain meetings and due dates.

The procurement process stalled in April when local attorney Thomas Fisher filed a protest against the request for proposal. Fisher, who represented Calvo’s gubernatorial campaign, took issue with a series of changes and amendments that were made to the request for proposal throughout the solicitation process.

“I believe that the process by which this RFP has developed may undermine public confidence in the procurement (and) impeaches a presumption of fair and equitable treatment of all persons who deal with the procurement system of Guam,” Fisher wrote in his April 14 protest.

Months later, the AG’s office canceled the procurement based on issues Fisher raised in his formal complaint. [/restrict]

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